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1997 Red River Flood, Part 5


The dike in the Lincoln Park area of Grand Forks began to give way, but little did people know at the time, that in just hours the Red River would be flowing through most of the town. In fact, late that night, and into the early morning hours of Saturday the 19th, Mike Jacobs and other Folks at the Grand Forks Herald were still in their downtown building putting out the news.

Mike Jacobs actuality: “We cut the electricity at twenty minutes after two on Saturday morning. We were printing the Saturday morning paper. That was when the water entered the building and we cut the electricity and of course then by morning the basement and part of the first floor where the press was had filled up with water.”

When the Herald was forced to evacuate their downtown office building, they quickly move to the University of North Dakota where they finished printing the Saturday paper. And since no one was allowed back downtown into the flooded area, it was from a distance that the Herald staff observed the fire that would eventually consume their building and all their equipment.

Jacobs actuality: “The fire actually started in the Security Building which was on the opposite corner of the block from us down the street. And it first spread with the wind to the southwest, and then came back and burned our building during the night. The fire downtown started about 4 o’clock in the afternoon but it wasn’t until the early morning hours that we realized that our building had been lost as well.”

Mike Jacobs was editor of the paper at the time and he explains how, in spite of the adversity, the Herald continued to publish throughout the disaster.

Jacobs actuality: “We did not miss a single day. We published every day. We did it with a lot of help from our friends. Initially in St. Paul MN…we sent staff from Grand Forks to St. Paul and we printed the paper on the presses in St. Paul for about three weeks…a little bit more. And then we made arrangements with the Forum in Fargo and the Grafton Record and we printed the paper in those locations for several months. And then we brought in press and put it in our temporary building, the old Best Buy building near the Columbia Mall and printed on that press for a number of months until we inaugurated the new press, the one we’re using now, on St, Patricks Day 1998. So 11 months after the flood we finally had our plant back up and running.”

The survival story of the Grand Forks Herald. Just one of countless similar stories to emerge from the tragic Red River flood of 1997.

By Merrill Piepkorn


Interview with Mike Jacobs

GF Herald-April 19th and 20th, 1997